I was so frazzled yesterday afternoon thinking about responding to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and whether I had the courage to pour cold water and chunks of ice over my head that I lost my concentration and just averted disaster. I’d spent the afternoon burning through three tanks (small ones, mind you) of gasoline as I string-trimmed all of the lawns and flower beds. After months of neglect I left a size 60 carbon footprint. But on my, everything looked so tidy and well barbered.

Next up was the amazing weed fryer machine. I humped the propane tank and torched the green fuzz from the front steps. Next up – the knee high overgrowth on the back patio. Now the machine would be put to a real test. I zap-fried the quack grass in the walkway then aimed the nose cone towards the stairs.

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I turned my head aside to check the valve on the burner head. In an instant I heard a whoosh. I was blown back by a blast of heat. Hell’s bells for sure. I’d ignited some dried  leaf trimmings on the ground.

What began as a small flame leaped into the air and raced up the trunk of that long-dead cedar turning it into a torch. It was loud – really loud. And smoke billowed high into the sky as I hesitated for only 2 seconds.

I bolted twenty meters to turn on the tap under the deck. I yanked the tangled green hose close enough to douse the flames. I was jumping up and down trying to reach high above my head in case the rest of the trees were in danger of firing up. Hub hustled up from the shed – he smelled the smoke. Without a word, he took the hose and aimed it on the other bushes to douse them down. The crisis was over.

It as then my heart started to pound. The trees are about three yards from the house. I could visualize disaster, now that there was no chance of anything awful happening. The stench of burned wood was overpowering. What if…what if? I awoke at four o’clock this morning with the smell of fire in my nostrils.

Thank God I’d started training for my Ida challenge. I was able to sprint to get the hose. I’d raced back and put out the fire without getting winded. But what a careless thing to do. I was distracted and not at all mindful of the potential danger. As much as I like frying instead of hand-picking, I think my days of being a wanton weed-burner are over.